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The_SloVinator

Your favorite secret type.

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By secret type, I mean like a fake wall, a hidden switch or hidden area below some edge etc...

What's yours?

Mine is a very well hidden switch or a room with 3 same terminals & 1 differs, so that one lowers & you get your price for the exploration.

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I dunno but something about things lowering in a near distance tickle my fancy...the kind of "...what was that?" and using your senses to find the source!

As for the KINDS of rewards? Goodies are nice but easter eggs or new places to explore or just a nice surprise are all lovely~! :D

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I quite like structures with an obvious switch on the front which have enough room to walk behind it, and another switch on the back side.

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I like type 9 sectors. My favourite secret type.

Serious answer - always liked the really fucking obvious out-in-the-open secrets that just require a sharp eye and (often) some unconventional navigation to acquire. Timed platforms, hidden switches and whatnot are nowhere near as rewarding as realising the path to something the game/mapper has been taunting you with.

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The ones which the player is required to have some sort of map awareness. Not just looking into auto map, pressing use to any wall, or very hidden switches, but the ones with some sort of clever hint where the player can get into it with some smart investigation.

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I like platforming secrets a lot. They're a good way of hiding things in plain sight, and it feels rewarding to discover where they lead.

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I like the ones you have to jump for, whether to a hidden lower ledge, or platforming, or straferunning across a wide opening, or a well-timed leap into a window...

My least favorite are the timed ones that become unreachable, like the one in Monster Condo. Or the ones that are always unreachable, like the other one in Monster Condo. :-P

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I like secrets with a well hidden (shootable) switch or just the standard lowering wall if there is at least some indication for it.
I don't have a problem with a timer on secrets if you can repeat the trigger and it's not just one chance to get it.

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Perhaps secrets that are completely out in the open without the entrance being so obvious, such as an item visible outside of a window? The player then becomes motivated to look for a way to obtain whatever the game is showing right in front of their face.

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Nate River said:

I don't have a problem with a timer on secrets if you can repeat the trigger and it's not just one chance to get it.

Yeah, those are just fine. I hate the "get here in 30 seconds or no goodies for you" secrets... I usually spend a couple of minutes at the end of each map trying to go back and find all the health/ammo/secrets that I might have missed, and it's infernally frustrating to think that some are just inaccessible.

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I think that the best secrets are the ones that as aforementioned just require a sharp eye and have slight visual cues or have some unique indication on the map. Candles are how most people handle it in their maps. Consoles are also a pretty interesting way as they also keep you guessing and checking. But I really hate wall spam secrets. Also extremely convoluted solutions bug me as I prefer it not to break the flow game play too much.

While on the subject, maps with more than 10 secrets are annoying like refuelling base.

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Secrets you can only access via a jump.

Be it an AV jump, a rocket jump or a falling jump, I like them all.

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I don't mind how complex the puzzle is, so long as there is a hint - a misaligned or different texture, or the sound of a distant platform moving, etc.

I kind of like how some of Doom's built-in demos expose some of the secrets, so that if you're paying attention you'll learn something. How many people usually bother to watch the demos?

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I love hidden switches (like a green torch instead of orange or a button blending in the background) that open secrets somewhere in the map, where you have to explore to find them.
Basically, I want secrets to remind me of Hexen (a lot of backtracking in that game), because it is so satisfying to find them.

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The ones that are in plain sight but you don't know how to get it eg the soulsphere in E1M3. And the other type would be secrets that are literally in front of your eyes but you don't see it eg Freedoom's C1M1's chainsaw (it's not exactly a secret according to the map, but you know it's a secret).

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Voros said:

The ones that are in plain sight but you don't know how to get it eg the soulsphere in E1M3.


Heck yeah.



One thing that Episode 1 absolutely nailed was secrets. E1M3 especially is a masterclass in how you make good secrets.

The soulsphere is the perfect secret. I know that there's something hidden to collect, because I never visit this room it in the normal progression of the level, which is a good tell. But what I like about it is that it's a hidden room. Not just a blue armor on top of a tall pillar in the middle of an arena, where I know there's probably a hidden teleporter somewhere. An entire freakin' room.

But that's just the beginning. There's a LOT of this level that is off the beaten path. Getting to the secret level doesn't even require you get to the outdoor acid pit, and is almost like playing a different level. But to cap things off, if you want 100% secrets, you have to pick up the - completely optional - yellow key and use it on a keycard door that is only found in a secret. How cool is that?

This kind of secret design that opens the map up and completely changes the progression of a map is something I wish I'd see in more maps. I suppose it is tempting to ensure that all of your hard work is seen by most players, but I just miss that feel of discovery like I did when playing E1.

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AlexMax said:

good secrets.


I wrote up a few rants on the freedoom side of the forums on exactly these types of secrets. They can expand difficulty for players that want to explore or want 100% scores. Many times I just try to finish map, have not focused on UV maxing anything yet.

Lengthy secrets are also a great way to boost skill required without making main map too hard. I found a Mario video on how secrets were handled. There is no skill levels in Mario, but there are items that only good players can reach. This type difficulty curve can also be applied to Doom maps.

Catoptromancy said:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9NdAao9y_4

I just watched this video. I think many principles can apply to Freedoom, and all maps really.

Where we can really boost skill for the most hardcore players is in the secrets and items. Some secrets can be more than just a closet with an item. It can be a new area, with hard monsters guarding a nice weapon or powerup. Maybe just a few health or armor bonuses tossed in for players looking for 100% on the intermission screen.

C4M2 and C2M3 are great examples. All other maps with secret exits in fd1 and fd2 just require finding the hidden switch and secret exit opens. C4M2 and C2M3 require lengthy battles to reach the secret exit. C2M3 shouldnt have a secret exit, it has been retagged, but it expands the map for explorers.

I think we should have lengthy secrets with items that count towards percentage. Players that really want 100% on maps will have to fight for it. While players just trying to find the exit can avoid those areas. These/some secrets do not need to be hard to find, just challenging to collect items in and finish off monsters.

Catoptromancy said:

Blocking closed or timed secret areas initially I thought should be removed. As long as blocked area has no items, monsters, or secrets that count towards intermission percentages, then it they seem reasonable. So weapons, health packs, armor, and ammo would work in blocking areas that are also not labelled secret.

Could even put carefully placed monsters in the area, just make sure player can somehow kill them. Once area is blocked, maybe activate a crusher later in map to kill monster, or have a view-able window.

Also permanent blocking areas should not taunt player with visible items.

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Gotta say that it's a great thrill to be teased with something out of the open but somehow inaccessible, then having to figure out how to get to it. One thing that I'll note, but is perhaps more appropriate for the confession thread, is that I often fail to find many of the secrets in user mods, and find myself wondering how much of it is my lack of critical thinking, and how much is them being too subtle.

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I'm not an avid secret finder. In fact most of the time I never find any secrets on a map unless I happen to stumble over some sort of obvious clue. So I guess by default my favorite types of secrets are the obvious ones or ones that are out in the open somewhere that you have to figure out how to get to.

I'll have to keep a close watch on this topic to help me in my future attempts to design good secret areas.

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42PercentHealth said:

Yeah, those are just fine. I hate the "get here in 30 seconds or no goodies for you" secrets... I usually spend a couple of minutes at the end of each map trying to go back and find all the health/ammo/secrets that I might have missed, and it's infernally frustrating to think that some are just inaccessible.

Yeah, those are the worst. However, if that same door, or maybe another door leading to the same room required a key to get in, then it would be one of the best secrets. That way you could get the item, maybe a nifty weapon early on, that would be great. But you could still have access to it much later when it won't be quite as overpowered due to tougher enemies in the area.

Other fun secret types are the ones where the like flashes and fades back for a split second (preferably a repeat trigger) when you walk over a certain spot. You would see something, but you might not notice it because you might be preoccupied or you might assume that it's part of the lighting atmosphere.

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Piper Maru said:

Yup E1M3 has my favorite type of secrets in a map where it's large portions of hidden areas that can be explored.


Pretty much this, I think my favorite variant of it is in No Rest For The Living's first map. I also like secrets than open up new routes through a map, such as Refueling Base's double key grab and exit.

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I consider myself a pretty avid secret lover, and I always feel good inside when I hit TAB and see more than 5 on the secrets count (unless the level is really big, in which case make that 10).

As for which ones I like, I obviously like a lot of secret types. Here is what I think makes for good secrets:
*Secrets that reward you accordingly to their difficulty. I hate finding super OP stuff in an easy secret, or being greeted with 8 shells and a stimpack in a difficult one.
*Secrets that are interesting to explore (i.e.:completely new areas instead of just a tiny sector with a pickup.
*Secrets that offer an easier way to deal with a difficult section of gameplay without containing pickups.
*A small boon at the start of the map in a secret. Can be an armor, shotgun, berserk, chainsaw, some health etc. Helps more than you can think.
*Secrets that contain really clever easter eggs or funny jokes.
*Secrets that contain weapons that make the level a different experience without breaking it or being completely useless.
*Multi-way secrets that are actually rewarding.
*Secrets within secrets.
*Secrets that reveal more about the setting or gameplay (where applicable;see any Xaser levels or Winter's Fury).
*Secret levels with vastly different gameplay and/or visuals to the rest of the mapset, only if not made for the opposite audience than the one it's already targeting.
*Secrets that are considerably easier to find if you've played a previous mappack, but not impossible otherwise. A reference to that mappack is required to be found in the secret for it to be brilliant.

Here is a list of this that I consider you should avoid when making secrets:
*Secrets that break the map (completely skipping large sections of a map or giving you overpowered pickups that trivialize the level).
*Secrets that are useless, particularly difficult to find ones.
*Secrets that do more harm than good (fighting those 2 revenants was totally worth this medkit. Or it would be, if I was still ALIVE!).
*Secrets that are considerably harder to deal with than the rest of the level.
*Secrets that aren't secrets (there was this map recently in Ty Halderman Tribute that gave me a BFG for fighting a cyberdemon in a heinously frustrating gameplay section that wasn't hidden. The BFG was marked secret.
*Secrets that make absolutely no sense (oh, this wall opens if you press use...for some reason).
*Secrets that are so obvious anyone will find them.
*Secrets that are marked as secret multiple times (only acceptable if the secret is really hard to find and should weigh more than others).
*Secret levels that are bullshit (looking at you Plutonia...well not really, I was already good enough to enjoy those levels when I found them. But the point still stands).
*Secrets that are reused within the same level, or within the same mappack to a point it becomes jarring.
*Secrets that are painfully obvious, but really hard to actually reach (think map03 of Doom2, but that's not really a big offender).

Even though I am an avid lover of secrets, I know some people have different tastes. Still, I hope this list will help some people, and I look forwards to MOAR SECRETS!
P.S.:Very few actual examples because I took a very large Doom hiatus.

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Urthar said:

Pretty much this, I think my favorite variant of it is in No Rest For The Living's first map. I also like secrets than open up new routes through a map, such as Refueling Base's double key grab and exit.

I agree, NRFTL map01 was rife with interesting secrets, some obvious and some impossibly obscure. The middle ground was the SSG secret that, when opened, nearly doubled the size of the map. I've tried to do similar things in my own WIP maps since playing NRFTL.

I'll release them one of these days.

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Generally, the harder the map, the less I like it having secrets as they tend to mess with the balance or become mandatory. For hardcore wads I prefer the Sunder/Italo-Doom approach of no secrets.

For regular maps, I'll echo the e1m3-style "show the item but make the player figure out how to path to it" secrets. Anything with a strong visual cue is generally a good thing. Wall-hump secrets absolutely suck though. My Doom experience improved greatly when I stopped wasting time mashing use on walls in maps.

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I generally have no special type, all secrets are fun but if I had to choose one then maybe a secret that leads you to ambush closet/area that open later in the map so you can clear the monsters in it, thus making that area a lot easier and give you a small view of an upcoming trap.

killer2 said:

*A small boon at the start of the map in a secret. Can be an armor, shotgun,


That's probably my least favorite one, feels very lazy to me.

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